Your home security system deserves the best. With a smart lock, you can remotely secure your home without having to worry about whether you locked every door before heading out. For this article, we got our hands on sleek, no-fuss smart locks that you can trust with protecting your household. Check out our review of the top smart locks for 2020, including the impenetrable Nest X Yale lock and the elegant Schlage Encoded.
Best smart locks at a glance:
- The best smart lock: August Smart Lock Pro Third Generation
- The best smart lock for Google Home: Nest X Yale
- The best smart lock for HomeKit: Yale Assure SL
- The best smart lock for Alexa: Schlage Schlage Encode
- The best smart lock for Airbnb: Lockly Secure Pro
Why should you buy this: This lock is sleek, secure, and easy to use.
Who’s it for: Those who want no-muss, no-fuss installation and functionality.
Why we picked the August Smart Lock Third Generation:
This latest iteration of the August Smart Lock has a lower cost than previous models and also boasts a new, slinkier industrial design. It fits over the interior side of your existing deadbolt and includes a traditional thumb turn lock to lock and unlock the door.
The lock is slimmer and taller than previous models, which works much better on doors with glazed panels. Plus, it’s made with all the high-quality materials we’ve come to expect from August. It can support Wi-Fi, HomeKit, Bluetooth, Amazon Alexa, and Z-Wave straight out of the box.
Unlike competing locks that require you to replace your existing lock, August Smart Locks install over a standard deadlock on the interior of the door. That means you can use a traditional set of keys to unlock your door or August’s beautifully-designed, easy-to-use app. Installation time takes about 15 minutes if you have the right tools in front of you and an extra set of hands to help.
Want to learn more? Read our full review of the Third Generation August Smart Lock.
Why should you buy this: You don’t have to worry about losing your house key because the Nest X Yale uses a keypad and no physical key.
Who’s it for: Those who want a smart lock that works seamlessly with Google Assistant.
Why we picked the Nest X Yale:
This attractive smart lock is a product of Nest and Yale. An elegant touchscreen keypad replaces the regular old lock and key mechanism, and the exterior surround comes in satin nickel, oil rubbed bronze, or polished brass. The oval-shaped outside keypad is 4.59 inches tall by 2.59 inches wide, while the interior lock is 7.03 inches tall by 2.78 inches wide. Four AA batteries power the lock, and the batteries should last about one year before you have to replace them.
You choose a passcode (between four and eight digits) to unlock the door, and you can also use the app. Additionally, the Nest X Yale has an automatic locking feature that activates after a duration of time that you select, and it has a home/away feature that locks the door automatically. Google Home users can voice control the Nest X Yale. You can check the status of your lock from the road, lock your door when you’re not home, and add your lock commands to Google Routines.
The Nest X Yale is not the most feature-rich lock on the market. However, the features it has work well, and it incorporates very well into a smart home run by Google Assistant.
Check out our full Nest X Yale review.
Why should you buy this: This lock is extremely attractive and easy to use.
Who’s it for: Those who want a sleek-looking device on their front door.
Why we picked the Yale Assure SL:
No matter how smart it is, most people won’t be excited about a new door lock. Locks are functional, utilitarian, and often bulky. But the Yale Assure SL smart lock is different. With its sleek, smooth onyx face and small footprint, this lock is a stylish device that you’ll admire every time you walk through your front door.
The lock is perfect for those seeking a simplified yet elegant looking lock that, when paired with a Network Module, works with Apple HomeKit. You can tell Siri to lock and unlock your door, plus you can use the app to manage pin codes and receive notifications.
The device comes in brushed silver, polished brass, or oil-rubbed bronze and features a numeric keypad that illuminates when you press the bottom left corner. The keypad is easily visible even in bright sunlight or at night. When no one is punching numbers on the keypad, the numbers disappear, and it’s just a gleaming onyx facade. Overall, it’s an attractive lock that will make your front door better looking.
Read our full Yale Assure SL review to learn more.
Why should you buy this: Schlage is an established company with a reputation for excellent hardware.
Who’s it for: Those who want solid hardware with voice assistant compatibility
Why we picked the Schlage Encode:
Schlage has been around for quite some time — well before there was such a thing as a smart lock. But Schlage has now evolved into one of the best smart lock makers in the biz. The Schlage Encode isn’t just a beautiful piece of hardware, it’s also a device that works well with Alexa, as well as a wide range of other third-party applications, including Amazon’s Cloud Cam, Key by Amazon, and Ring security products. You can also use it with the Schlage Home app.
Read more about Schlage Encode Lock.
Why should you buy this: You’ll be able to generate temporary codes for guests who are staying at your place.
Who’s it for: Anyone that frequently rents out their home to guests will appreciate the vast options for granting access to the lock.
Why we picked the Lockly Secure Pro:
Seriously, this is the Swiss Army Knife of smart locks because there are so many features built into it and it’s one of the most advanced. From its fingerprint sensor, dynamic touchscreen keypad, and ability to unlock/lock using Alexa or Google Assistant, this is the absolute best smart lock for Airbnb hosts.
Guests that do plan on staying at your home can be given temporary key codes that they can punch into the touchscreen keypad when they arrive, which can also be made time-sensitive for added security. Once their stay is complete, you can have another set of codes for the next guest.
Everything is tracked by the app, which can tell you the method that was used to unlock the lock — including if it’s the old fashion way with a key! Another neat feature is the Lockly Secure Pro’s ability to automatically lock itself if you happen to forget to do it.
Read all about the Lockly Secure Pro in our full review.
Research and buying tips
- How do smart locks work?
- Can I Install a smart lock myself?
- Can Alexa or Google Assistant control smart locks?
- Are smart locks secure?
- Do smart locks also work with a key?
- Can smart locks work with geofencing?
- Do I need a smart doorbell with my smart lock?
- Does a smart lock require a smart home hub?
- What’s the best platform to buy into — Ring, Nest, or another?
An old school lock typically contains internal pins, and when you insert the proper key, it puts the exact right amount of pressure on each pin and the lock opens. Smart locks are electronic, and they work using a keypad, touchpad, or other means; and they also work with your smartphone, so you can operate them remotely via Wi-Fi. To work, they typically have electronic parts like small motors and actuators, and when you unlock the device with your smartphone or through other means, you’re sending an electrical impulse to the device, as opposed to inserting a key and physically moving pins.
This depends on the smart lock you purchase and your DIY skills. Some locks, like the August Smart Lock, retrofit over your existing deadbolt, which makes them incredibly easy to install in about 10 minutes. Other locks require a bit more effort, but you can probably self-install if you’re handy with a screwdriver and hammer. The Kwikset Kevo Convert is an example. You’ll need a few tools, but you can get the job done in less than an hour. You just need to pop off your old deadbolt and replace it with the Kwikset Lock. On the other end of the spectrum, some smart locks, like Schlage Sense, have a more complicated installation process.
Smart locks typically have a corresponding app, which is compatible with Alexa, HomeKit, and/or one of the other voice assistants. This allows you to use voice commands like, “Alexa, lock the door,” or “Alexa, is my door locked.” To find out specific voice assistant compatibility, visit the manufacturer’s website.
As with any Wi-Fi connected device, there’s always a small risk the device will be hacked if the user doesn’t take steps to protect themselves. However, there’s also a risk that someone can breach or pick a regular (non-smart) door lock.
By taking the proper precautions, like using a strong and unique password and taking advantage of two-factor authentication when available, this can help to greatly reduce the risk of a breach.
Some smart locks work with a key and some don’t. Smart locks typically allow you to remotely control your lock via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Z-wave. So, you can operate the lock without a key, and perhaps even when you’re away from your home. Smart locks may also include a key fob, keypad, or fingerprinting system in lieu of (or in addition to) a standard key.
Some of the corresponding apps also allow you to issue temporary access (eKeys) to guests, neighbors, or work people who need to enter your home temporarily. This way, you don’t need to give them a tangible key and worry about them making a copy of your house key.
Some smart locks, like the August Smart Lock, have geofencing. If you set up the geofencing feature, it can detect when you’re nearby (or when your phone is nearby) and unlock the door when you approach. It can also detect when your phone has left a specific vicinity, and then automatically lock the door. You set this feature up in the smart lock’s app.
A smart lock can help you to prevent or grant access to your home, and it acts as a barrier to entry. However, few smart locks (few good ones at least) have cameras, and a smart lock doesn’t provide the same features as a video doorbell, which acts as a sort of digital doorman.
A smart video doorbell can show you who’s at the door, so you know whether or not you want to answer for that person. A good video doorbell can also act as additional security, catching suspicious activity on video and helping to deter porch pirates.
You can get a smart lock up and running with just the device and your phone. However, some locks require an additional network module or an added subscription fee if you want to have all of the features the lock has to offer. If you want to use your compatible smart lock with Alexa or Google Assistant, you typically just need any Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker. You shouldn’t require a smart home Hub with most locks.
This depends on the features you want. Do you want a system where the products all work in tandem? Nest does a good job of making its smart products work together. For instance, when you unlock your Nest X Yale Lock, this can automatically disarm your Nest Secure security system as well. Do you want to focus on affordability? Your best bet might be to go with the older models or to mix platforms. You can still set up routines and control your devices via the Alexa app. Do you want Alexa-compatible products? Ring is a solid option. Want Google Home compatibility? Nest is a good choice. Again, it all depends on your individual preferences.
How we test smart locks
For the past several years, we’ve put dozens of smart locks through the gauntlet (ok, not literally) in our test homes. We test for things like ease of installation (can we do it ourselves or is a professional required?) and quality of the product overall. While having smarts is required for a smart lock, the thing we consider first and foremost is whether the device features strong hardware that will protect us. We’ll admit it, though, we’re also on the lookout for good-looking hardware. After all, who wants an ugly, clunky lock on their front door?
Next, we test for functionality. Does the device work as promised? Is it easy to use? Are there any issues with connectivity? Is there a backup for when the batteries die or the Wi-Fi goes down? After all, getting locked out of your house is a huge drag.
One final thing we look for is the smart home piece, which often comes in the form of an app. Does the app work as promised? Is it user-friendly? Is it laid out nicely? Does it work with a voice assistant? Can it work seamlessly with smart home hubs?
After all of that, we take a hammer and try to hack off the lock. Ok, not really, but we definitely let the locks weather the elements over time to make sure that they’re tamper-proof, waterproof, or whatever-proof they claim to be.
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